2 Iraqi soldiers killed, 3 abducted by gunmen

FALLUJAH, Iraq — Gunmen killed two Iraqi soldiers and abducted three others in Fallujah on Saturday as hundreds of mourners gathered in the western city for the funeral of protesters killed during a shooting by Army troops a day earlier, according to officials.

The attacks and kidnappings appeared to be in retaliation for the deaths of protesters in clashes Friday, and are likely to further strain tensions between Iraq’s minority Sunnis and the Shi’ite-led central government.

Also on Saturday, Iraqi lawmakers said Parliament has approved a law that would limit the terms of the prime minister, president, and Parliament speaker to a maximum of two terms. The measure, which must be approved by Iraq’s president, could pose a challenge to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s plans to seek the post again in 2014.


Fallujah police Major Rasheed al-Adeeli said one of the soldiers killed was hit by a sniper on the outskirts of the city. Another was shot to death when gunmen attacked a military post where soldiers were packing up their equipment on the northern edge of the city.

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Gunmen ambushed the car of three off-duty soldiers on the outskirts of Fallujah and kidnapped them, according to state television and a provincial police official. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said authorities have launched a manhunt for the missing men.

Mourners hoisted caskets and waved Iraqi flags while shouting ‘‘Allahu Akbar!’’ or God is great. The funeral procession took place in central Fallujah, not far away from the city’s cemetery.

Iraqi soldiers opened fire Friday on stone-throwing demonstrators near Fallujah, killing at least five, according to local authorities. Two other soldiers were killed Friday in apparent payback for the protesters’ deaths.

Sunnis angry over perceived second-class treatment and what they see as unfair policies targeting their sect began demonstrating last month in Anbar. The protests have since spread to other predominantly Sunni areas.


The protesters are demanding the release of detainees and the cancellation of a tough counterterrorism law and other policies they believe overwhelmingly target Sunnis. Many link their cause with the broader Arab Spring and are calling for the downfall of the government altogether.

International rights group Amnesty International pressed the Iraqi government to immediately investigate the protesters’ deaths and make its findings public.

Iraqi state television aired a statement from the Defense Ministry on Friday evening saying it would investigate what happened in Fallujah.

Repeated efforts to reach ministry officials directly were unsuccessful.

Muhammed al-Khalidi, a Sunni lawmaker, said 170 lawmakers voted in favor of the law limiting the terms of the prime minister and other top officials. He said lawmakers from Maliki’s State of Law bloc boycotted the session.